Washington - President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that he was "not a racist," after his reported denunciation of immigration from "sh*thole" countries triggered a global firestorm of criticism.
Trump on Friday tweeted a convoluted denial about the comments, which were reported by The Washington Post and The New York Times and confirmed by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who attended the meeting at which they were said to have been spoken.
"I'm not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you," Trump told reporters at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was having dinner with Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The alleged expletive came during a Thursday meeting between Trump and legislators about immigration reform.
After lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador, the president reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from "sh*thole countries," rather than -- for instance -- wealthy and overwhelmingly white Norway.
Trump also turned to the immigration issue on Twitter Sunday, reiterating his opposition to the visa lottery.
"I, as President, want people coming into our Country who are going to help us become strong and great again, people coming in through a system based on MERIT. No more Lotteries! #AMERICA FIRST," he tweeted.
- Upbeat on North Korea -
In Florida, Trump also sounded upbeat on North Korea, after confusion emerged over whether he had suggested in an interview that he had a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The president said he was misquoted, which recordings appear to corroborate.
"We'll see what happens with North Korea. We have great talks going on. The Olympics you know about. A lot of things can happen," he said.
Trump said he was trying to clinch an immigration deal, but that his Democratic rivals were unhelpful.
"We're ready, willing and able to make a deal on DACA," Trump said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that protects immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.